Quality Solicitors went wrong, but there is still a position for them in the market

So Quality Solicitors have decided to take stock (http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/analysis/comment-and-opinion/qs-drifts-towards-normality/5047570.article). Their initial spending and scattergun approach to gaining new clients is over. It appears that a new version is about to be rolled out. Let’s treat the first attempt as Quality Solicitors Beta version.

Where did they go wrong?

  1. The brand name was stomach churning;
  2. They offered glorified marketing and not enough back room support;
  3. For unknown reasons, they did not collaborate with third party funders (this is an underappreciated point)
  4. Individual members lost their identity; and
  5. They joined with uninspiring partners.

It is unsavoury to carry out a post-mortem in any further detail. The focus should instead look at how they can improve in what I am christening QSv2.0.

QSv2.0

  1. Use collective bargaining. Focus upon what discounts can be obtained through issues such as ATE premium offerings (due to volume); Professional Indemnity insurance; panel relationships with chambers; etc. If you can expose another company to potentially 100 separate referrals of business then this would give you the financial muscle. It is potentially a massive book of business. If QS could obtain 15-20% reductions then it would be a great offering to their members.
  2. Link up with a litigation funder. The bulk of the cases will be towards the lower end of the market, however if there is a number of high value claims which need funding; make sure there is a relationship with a third party funder. There is still a potential link-in with insurers at the lower end of the market (e.g. insuring against failure in conveyancing transactions).
  3. Offer financial advice and packages to members. This could be a financing service to cover WIP, tax payments, and other short-term cash flow issues. If QS is smart they could get paid at both ends – once by the finance company they arrange this through for their members and another payment from the membership fee paid by the firm.
  4. Act as an outsourcer for back room support such as payroll, IT, HR, compliance, complaints handling, auditing, etc. This could be sub-contracted out with QS getting a cut. There could be varying rates depending on whether there is a full service of back room support, or just a couple of departments
  5. Establish panel chambers on favourable rates. QS could learn a lot from insurance companies involved in litigation if they want to go down this route.
  6. Stop linking with those past their prime and who peaked in the 1990’s (WH Smith and Amanda Holden). Link up only with those that are up and coming, or do not bother at all.
  7. Allow member firms to rename themselves. A good old fashioned name is fine. It can still have the QS brand in there somewhere. It could just be “Jones Jones and Jones… a member of the QS firm network”

I was going to list 10, but unless QS pay me as a consultant, 7 is all they are getting!

Over and out.

Legal Orange.

The definitive guide for laymen: “how to help your conveyancer so they can help you”

The majority of consumers only encounter solicitors for life-changing matters such as moving house and making or administering wills. This insight to conveyancing is irrelevant to commercial property (particularly the tax planning *cough* trust/tax dodging*cough*) and addressed to “the man on the street”.

While people are technically free to do their own conveyancing, some mortgage companies such as HSBC insist upon using their nominating conveyancers, and the truth is that conveyancing for the man on the street is overly technical. Even solicitors and barristers who handle other areas of law will not dip their toes into conveyancing as it falls outside of their expertise.

Before I get into the meat of this article, there are some important things for consumers to know.

  1. The majority of complaints made against solicitors involve conveyancing for residential property;
  2. There is a “rush to the bottom of the market” as firms try to undercut each other to achieve the cheapest fees – which impacts upon quality;
  3. Most consumers do not know the difference between a Licensed Conveyancer and a Solicitor;
  4. Mortgage companies have a large amount of control and influence over the instructions of conveyancing firms (this is known as the “lenders panel”); and
  5. There is a lot of outsourcing of property searches.

Point (1) needs to be looked at. The high level of complaints means that either consumers are frustrated from receiving a poor service, or the firms are not communicating well enough to the consumer.

Hopefully this guide will assist, and both consumers will understand the system better; and firms will outline the steps and timeframes in clearer terms to their clients.

Firstly, be aware of this – everybody wants the conveyancing to be completed in the earliest possible timeframe. The seller wants their money; the buyer wants to get the keys to their new property; the estate agents want their commission; the mortgage company wants to get their risk (i.e. the property) protected; and the solicitor wants to get paid. PLEASE WORK TOGETHER.

Everybody tries to nudge the process along. Be aware that the process normally involves many stages. This is particularly the case with flats and apartments on leasehold property where managing agents are involved.

The stages therefore need to be known:

  1. Offer and acceptance. This is normally agreed via the estate agents. At this stage the estate agent will try and push their recommended conveyancer on you so they can get a commission.
  2. Acceptance of mortgage. This can be the agreement in principle before the purchase, or successful mortgage borrowing after an offer has been accepted.
  3. Instruction of conveyancers or solicitors. The buyer’s representative will contact the seller’s representative to ask for a copy of the draft contract and any other details, such as the property’s title and the standard forms.
  4. Standard enquiries. The seller provides details of matters such as the utility companies, managing agents, fixtures and fittings, etc. Your solicitor will examine the draft contract and supporting documents and raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitor based on the draft contract and standard enquiries. You will be expected to go through the forms the seller has completed and let the solicitor know if you have any queries or concerns.
  5. The conveyancer will most likely outsource the property searches to a third party company. They will contact the relevant agencies such as the local Council, flood register, water authority, environment agency, and other “area specific” agencies. These will be reviewed once received and you will be advised on their findings.
  6. The mortgage company will want a mortgage survey. This is simply to check the property is valued to protect their exposure in lending money to the buyer. It is possible the buyer may want to go a step further and obtain a full survey from a structural engineer. The choice is yours.
  7. Insurance will need to be arranged to cover the property. If you are unsure of how to arrange this, an insurance broker can be consulted. If you have a leasehold property then the managing agents may already have buildings insurance cover in place.
  8. Once all of the above has been completed it will be necessary for contracts to be signed and exchanged, which leads to a completion date. Your representative will handle this on your behalf, which involves dealing with the other side and the mortgage company. Between exchange and completion your solicitor will lodge an interest in the property which will mean that the deeds to the property are frozen for 30 working days to allow you to pay the seller and lodge your application to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds into your name.
  9. Completion is normally around midday on the day you move into the property. You can collect they keys.
  10. While you enjoy your new home or property, your solicitor will continue beavering away on the final matters involving the stamp duty, land registry, Mortgage Company and other relevant parties (e.g. notifying freeholders about new leaseholder).

The usual suspects for delays

Any delay causes a log-jam further down the chain.

Typically these are the problems:

  1.  A lack of awareness of the process and timeframes involved by buyers and sellers;
  2. Contracts falling through elsewhere in the chain, which falls outside of the control of others in the chain
  3. Poorly drafted responses to enquiries by the seller (e.g. “N/A” or “Unknown” for matters that should clearly be known to them)
  4. Unnecessary requests for enquiries by the purchaser that exceed ‘standard enquiries’
  5. Managing agents being slow to provide information such as historic accounts and minutes of meetings
  6. Surveyors and engineers having full diaries that delay inspection and valuation reports
  7. The mortgage company requesting further information or documents to satisfy their lending criteria, or refers the decision to underwriters (e.g. if someone is self-employed and their income varies a lot over the last 3 years)
  8. Unexpected search results (e.g. property being on an old quarry where the buyers have intentions to carry out building works engineering advice states it would not be sensible to excavate or build on the land)

10 Top tips of how to help your conveyancer to help your move go as smoothly as possible 

  1. Get an agreement in principle before making any offers. You will speed up your formal mortgage application later on.
  2. Instruct the most appropriate solicitor for you and your needs. Licensed conveyancers will not want to hear this, but solicitors offer clients better protection in the event something goes wrong. The regulation and protection (insurance and industry fund) is of more comfort to consumers.
  3. Do not go with the cheapest provider or use the estate agent’s recommended company. Please do not Google the cheapest cowboy providers. A local firm is better for you as they understand the area. Local knowledge is vital when you are buying the most expensive thing in your life (and often a 25 year commitment to pay).
  4. Familiarise yourself with the stages involved in the process and the likely timeframes. They are guides and you need to make contingencies. Do not put yourself in the position of leaving a rental property before moving into a mortgaged property. See if you can get a rolling monthly contract agreement with your landlord and allow a short overlap with 2 properties. It may be costly, but it will result in lower stress levels.
  5. Make a list that contains all of the people and companies involved in your property purchase. Think about their role, how they can help you, and what you can expect from each other.
  6. Be realistic with your enquiries of the seller. Make a list of what you want to know about the property and provide this to your solicitor. This can be cross-referenced with the standard enquiries by the seller. Your solicitor will tell you if something is irrelevant.
  7. Don’t be unrealistic over fixtures and fittings. They can often be negotiated. Don’t allow small things to be a sticking point that can result in deadlock. It’s a business negotiation rather than a battle – you can both be winners. Do not jeopardise a £100k-£250k purchase over a £100 curtain rail!
  8. Decide on your survey early on. With a smaller property like a flat, your mortgage valuation survey is likely to be fine. In older houses you should look for a full structural engineer survey. Do not simply go with the mortgage company.
  9. Insure the property to the hilt. Make sure it is for the full reinstatement value of the property to protect you and the mortgage company. Sometimes the mortgage company will offer insurance cover through their non-lending branch; it is normally more expensive, but it may allow you to sleep a bit easier. Insurance brokers can be consulted and do not be afraid to get their help if you do not understand insurance.
  10. Have access to funds for all stages of the process. Budget accordingly in the time leading up to the purchase to avoid last minute additional borrowing.

Over and out.

Legal Orange

A hint for insurance companies insisting upon assignment agreements as a condition of settlement

Let me get to the point very quickly. If you are an insurer who insists upon an innocent claimant signing an assignment agreement before you will settle their claim, firms will issue proceedings against you.

Really? Is this true?

I succeeded with such an approach this week at a regional county court with a very sensible judge.

Facts: RTA impact with property. The driver’s identity was known and the vehicle insured. Claim was worth north of £50k. Driver was not the owner. In fact the driver was a bit naughty and has no money. The claim was therefore against the RTA insurer. The insurer refused to pay unless an assignment agreement was signed by the claimant. The claimant didn’t want to sign this. As parties were in deadlock we issued proceedings. Liability was admitted under the EC Rights Against insurers Regs and it went to a disposal hearing.

Hearing: the DJ awarded all of the claim pleaded. It was a relatively low value claim (in litigation terms) and the claim was handled by a qualified and experienced loss adjuster. On costs, the defendant argued they should receive theirs or no order as to costs. We naturally relied upon their conditions for settlement being unreasonable – our client would have to assign their rights and the wording of the agreement meant the defendant could use our client’s name, without our client having control of such proceedings.

Judge’s view: he was very angry with the defendant. He explained in clear terms to the defendant’s barrister that the message he should feed back to those instructing him was to do some research on the Road Traffic Act. He explained that the RTA insurer would have the ability to pursue the driver under section 151(8)(b) for the damages paid out by the insurer. Counsel, who had been handed a bad brief, was obliging and explained his instructions were that the assignment was an internal policy decision of the insurer. This only made the judge angry as he sat in the family and county court, and clearly had more important things to do than listen to a rich insurance company pushing an innocent claimant around.   The judge liked our argument about insurers insisting on a conditional settlement as being completely unreasonable as it exposed the claimant to 2 potential actions from the one incident. Sadly our request for indemnity costs was refused which was a bloody shame as I lost £10 on a bet with a colleague.

Why do insurers insist upon this?

Dunno.

I am aware of 2 insurers who frequently insist upon these for RTA claims. During w/p discussions their fee earners have admitted that it is very rare for the insurer to pursue a driver using an assignment agreement. This is because most people who are involved in these types of cases have no money (e.g. criminals, underage TWOC’ers, foreign drivers who return overseas without trace, etc).

I suspect a consultant has managed to convince the insurers that the assignment agreement provides them with extra ammunition. This is stupid as most motor policies will include an express section on their rights of recovery from settling a claim involving a third party, and the Road Traffic Act also gives them a statutory provision to reclaim the costs. This is also particularly silly in subrogated claims as a claimant would be giving 2 separate insurance companies a cause of action arising from the same incident!

What should claimants do?

Due to the infrequency of the insurer actually pursuing someone using the agreement, they can run the risk that the low chance is worthwhile “signing and taking the cash”.

However, if you are an innocent claimant and don’t ever want to revisit the matter again, simply sue the insurer.

Also importantly for claimants, this silly conduct by insurers is a great costs building exercise. You can have some back-and-forth over the assignment agreement, before issuing and dealing with their defence. Thereafter, you may even be able to get lucky with a summary judgment application and then the costs of preparing for a disposal hearing if it gets that far. You are unlikely to fail in your costs arguments where a conditional settlement is presented by an insurer.

 

Over and out.

Legal Orange.

Letter of Claim Guidance

I receive emails from people asking for free legal advice. This normally means taking on a pro bono case for them. I wish I could. But my firm doesn’t allow this, and I am not paid enough to subsidise others. Instead, the next best thing I can do is provide some free guidance.

Fundamentals before drafting a letter of claim.

(1) Identify if it is governed by a pre-action protocol (http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol)

(2) Read the protocol that applies. If your dispute does not fall within a protocol (which most contract disputes do not as most emails to me relate to contract law) then use the practice direction for pre-action conduct.

(3) Read the protocol/practice direction a further 2 times. Let it sink it. Remember, this is just the ADMINISTRATION of the claim. It does not determine who wins or loses; think of it as the guidance of how a claim should be handled by both sides.

Preparing the letter of claim

(1) Introduce the claim. Include key items such as:

  • identify of the claimant(s) and defendant(s)
  • date(s) of incident(s) allegedly giving rise to cause of action
  • explain the protocol/practice direction you intend to comply with
  • outline the timeframe for which you require compliance from the other side (e.g.acknowledgment within 14 days and substantive response within 28 days)
  • point out the other side should refer the matter to their insurance company if it will be relevant

(2) Highlight the key facts and evidence. This may include:

  • explanation of who the parties are (e.g. a consumer, a tradesman, a supplier, a manufacturer, a property owner, landlord, tenants, etc)
  • provide a brief factual background
  • explain the relevant facts that you are alleging happened (e.g. date of parties entering into a written contract)
  • put forward the evidence you have in support (e.g. copy of emails, written contracts, receipts, photographic evidence, expert evidence, independent third party witnesses such as an attending police officer)
  • as an aside, mention the loss and damage that has been suffered

(3) A section on liability must be outlined. This should explain:

  • why the claimant holds the defendant liable
  • the relevant EU law or statute that has been breached
  • any relevant secondary legislation that was breached (e.g. a statutory instrument)
  • allegations of non-statutory breaches such as negligence or nuisance
  • how or why the defendant is liable

(4) The quantum of the claim should be outlined. This should include reference to any enclosed documents such as invoices, estimates,quotes, etc. Make sure you mention if the claim has been finalised or other items are outstanding (e.g. ongoing building repairs)

(5) Include a section on documents. State the documents you rely upon in support of the claim and enclose them. Do not forget to state the documents you seek to be disclosed by the defendant (e.g. risk assessments, report logs, work orders, etc). Threaten a pre-action disclosure application if these are not disclosed voluntarily within a set timeframe.

(6) Outline your funding. If you are handling this yourself as a litigant in person then do not mention this. If however there is a CFA or you have taken out After-The-Event insurance this should be communicated to the defendant.

(7) Offer to settle the claim by way of Alternative Dispute Resolution before litigation. Protect yourself with including this as a separate section. Make it clear that you want to “do a deal” without going to Court. A simply offer to handle this by way of a without prejudice telephone discussion could be sufficient for a relatively low value claim. You don’t have to immediately run off to an expensive mediation.

(8) Provide an overview. Explain what you want from them such as compliance with the protocol/practice direction, or a meeting, or simply ask for a settlement cheque. Highlight that if liability is denied then you require a substantive response along with voluntary disclosure.

Once all of the above has been completed, sit back and wait for the response. You should read the protocol/practice direction again after you have received their response. I would recommend then taking your case to the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau if you are unable to afford to pay for a solicitor. They will be well placed to advise you further. This may include them telling you that your claim is doomed to fail, reasonable and needs to be presented better, or encourage you to litigate through a well-known pro bono or “CFA friendly” local solicitor.

Over and out.

Legal Orange.

The very easy decision in Blankley v Manchester NHS Trust [2015] EWCA Civ 18.

Was anybody surprised by the court’s decision in this case? (link: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/18.html)

I thought not.

Background summary

I have lifted the background from the judgment because (i) it is well drafted; and (ii) I am lazy:

On 6 August 1999 the claimant underwent a suction termination and laparoscopic sterilisation at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester (part of the defendant Trust) which resulted in cardio-respiratory arrest and anoxic brain damage.

In July 2000 a legal aid certificate was granted to the claimant. On 5 August 2002 she issued proceedings in the County Court, claiming damages for the alleged negligence of the defendant in relation to the procedure. At that stage she was conducting the proceedings without a litigation friend. The firm of Linder Myers acted as her solicitors.

In December 2002 a consultant neuropsychiatrist concluded that the claimant lacked capacity, in consequence of which her father was appointed her litigation friend.

The proceedings were complex and contested but in February 2005 the parties reached agreement on liability and judgment was entered for the claimant for damages to be assessed on the basis of 95% liability.

By May 2005 the claimant was assessed to have regained mental capacity and an order was made that she carry on the proceedings without a litigation friend. On 7 July 2005 the legal aid certificate was discharged. The next day, 8 July 2005, the claimant entered into a CFA with Linder Myers. There is no dispute that the CFA was valid when executed.

The CFA was in a Law Society model form and was expressed to cover the claimant’s claim against the defendant (at that time, of course, limited to the issue of quantum), any appeal and any proceedings to enforce a judgment, order or agreement. It provided that if the claimant won her claim she would pay the firm’s basic charges, its disbursements and a success fee of 25%, and that she would be entitled to seek recovery of these costs from the defendant.

On about 9 February 2007 further psychiatric assessments of the claimant determined that she had once more lost the capacity to conduct her own affairs and could not provide instructions in relation to her ongoing claim. On 26 February 2007 an application was made to the Court of Protection for the appointment of Mr Cusworth, a trusts partner in Linder Myers, as the claimant’s receiver. On 16 April 2007 the Court of Protection duly made such an order, expressly providing that the receiver had authority to conduct the proceedings on the claimant’s behalf. On 1 October 2007, on the coming into force of section 66 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and by virtue of the transitional provisions in schedule 5 to that Act, receivers automatically became Court of Protection deputies. It was subsequently confirmed that Mr Cusworth, as such deputy, was entitled to act as a litigation friend of the claimant as of right.

On 16 July 2007 Mr Slater, a litigation solicitor at Linder Myers, sent a copy of the claimant’s CFA to Mr Cusworth’s assistant. On 4 September 2007 Mr Slater wrote to Mr Cusworth, stating “as you know we are proceeding with this case on a conditional fee basis” and providing an update on fees and rates. Mr Slater sent a similar client care letter to Mr Cusworth every six months thereafter, each stating that Linder Myers was proceeding on a conditional fee basis. At the end of his letter dated 26 February 2009 Mr Slater added a manuscript note asking Mr Cusworth “Do you feel that a new [CFA] is needed now that you have taken over conduct or do you just assume any contractual relationship that [the claimant] was already in?” It appears that a draft of a new CFA was prepared by Linder Myers in March 2009 but no-one was able to locate an executed version of that agreement.

What happened next?

The quantum proceedings eventually resulted in a settlement of the claim in the amount of £2.6 million plus costs, the settlement being approved by the court on 5 March 2010.

Linder Myers submitted a bill of costs on behalf of the claimant in the total sum of £387,724.42, including disbursements, subsequently amended to £372,724.42. The defendant disputed the parts of the bill that related to the period from March 2007 when the claimant was acting through Mr Cusworth as her receiver/deputy. The defendant’s contention was that the CFA had terminated automatically before that time as a result of the claimant’s incapacity, leaving Linder Myers without any retainer.

In two separate judgments, Regional Costs Judge DN Harris accepted the defendant’s contention and rejected a number of alternative bases on which it was argued on behalf of the claimant that Linder Myers’ fees were recoverable.

The appeal

As I have already linked to the decision and lazily copied-and-pasted most of it above, you will be now understand the appeal came down in its most basic form to frustration of contract, the ability of a third party to provide instructions on behalf of a client and incapacity.

The outcome?

Unsurprisingly the court ruled that the CFA was valid.

Now let us focus upon all of the above. There are some pertinent points to be made.

  1. This was an opportunistic defendant trying to be clever; and
  2. It was an attack on all innocent victims that rely on CFAs for access to justice.

The first limb was the defendant, or their costs counsel, getting terribly excited in an attempt to get around the intricacies of the law.  A caveat some would say if they were at law school. This happens in nearly every law office – there is talk of how one would like to run a defence on a certain angle, but it is too risky as the court may punish you for such audacity. On this occasion, they took a punt.

While there was some academic merit in the defendant’s approach, and their suave tongued barrister must have been very persuasive at first instance; they could not get away from the fact that the client had capacity at the time she entered into the CFA. I love the phrase used in the judgment of “fluctuating capacity” for its accuracy. When laying bare some of the fundamentals of contract law, the defendant faced an uphill battle because there was acceptance of capacity when the CFA was entered into.

The second limb is identical in its importance.

It would be absolutely unforgiveable for a defendant to benefit from a lack of capacity argument when it has been their actions which has caused or contributed towards the incapacity.

Road Traffic insurers and employers of healthcare professionals would rub their hands with glee if they could (i) injure a party [causing a lack of capacity some time in the future following the CFA] who is forced onto a CFA due to having limited funds, and (ii) then refuse to pay costs as the person they have injured lacked capacity at some stage.

Access to justice is a very important concept. The courts enjoy it. The government destroyed legal aid and CFAs provide injured claimants with an opportunity to instruct lawyers to represent them. It should be at the defendant’s cost as opposed to the claimant.

I will step down from my soapbox now. But seriously, the decision was easy to predict. We now just have the Coventry decision to follow suit in its predictability.

Over and out.

Legal Orange.

 

 

 

The impact that will be caused by the (proposed) increase in court fees.

In short, there will be minimal impact. The only winner is the government.

Why will there be little impact?

The wealthy will be unaffected by the sums of money that will be involved (it’s chickenfeed to them). The poor shall qualify for qualify for fee exemptions, so they will not share the pain.

Those neither rich or poor will be affected. But they do not make up the bulk of litigants.

HMCTS has not been coy about their reason for increasing the fees. They want to raise fee income.

What’s the problem?

The MOJ has omitted to mention that they have attached much excitement to the figures released from the employment tribunals.The government discovered that huge numbers of ET1 drafters decided not to use the employment tribunal when they introduced relatively expensive issue and final hearing fees.

This was great because the government is a huge employer facing large numbers of claims. The reduction was in their favour.

Increased court fees, in the eyes if the government, produce a deterrent towards litigation for the lower quartile of society. They know that fewer claims will save government costs. Furthermore they are alive to the rich being able to pay their way through increased court fees. It’s all about saving money. I discussed this with a DDJ who observed that their salaries and pensions have been increasing at glacial pace, so the money is not going to MOJ staff.

What will happen in reality?

The rich will continue unaffected by the change, as will the poor.

Firms on CFA’s will pay the increased court fees and essentially “sub” those in the middle (you know, those actually affected by this), so long as their case has reasonable prospects of success.

Some people will find they cannot afford it, but I imagine this category will not replicate the figures seen from the employment tribunal.

 

Over and out.

Legal Orange.

 

 

 

2015 predictions

Apologies for the hiatus.

2015 predictions are all the rage, and I lack the originality to come up with something different.

Without further delay:

1. Cost budgeting

The lower-end multi track will have fixed costs brought into effect.

Rumour is £250k, but maybe it will be less (say £100k?).

There is a general frustration when £40k claims are listed for costs and case management conferences that take up 90 minutes.

2. ATE funding changes

The return that ATE funders seek is in the region of 16-17 times the risk they accept.

People do not want to pay this level of premium out of their costs and damages. They will therefore come up with a cheaper product and a mass marketing scheme to deliver this.

3. The Coventry litigation

There is no chance of the senior court deciding that the government has to pay defendant insurers millions of pounds in rebates for allowing success fee uplifts.

Look forward to a beautifully worded judgment.

4. Damages Based Agreements

They will finally be amended for wider use.

It makes little sense to disallow a sophisticated consumer, such as a large bank or insurer, to enter into an agreement with their solicitors where a damages based agreement can be used.

On the lower end of the market, this is more difficult. The fine balance between “access to justice” and protection of a lay client means that I see the commercial clients leading the way with DBA’s.

5. A new portal

Expect to see something else enter a portal. I don’t want to say more than this in the event what I have been told is nonsense!

6. The next Halliwells

Mark my words, another large firm will go under.

Do not expect a forced merger, there will be asset stripping and the death of a fairly large top 25 firm.

Either the taxman or creditors will be the real reason. The excuse rolled out in the PR statement will blame the legal marketplace changes.

7. MLRO officers taking on even more control

The anti money laundering officers at some international firms are getting nervous as they are an unpaid state agent and expected to spot everything. The pressure upon them will only increase.

This is not a good thing with the increase in bad people around the world who are intent on death and destruction.

8. The Family Courts will fight back

There are some very strong judges in the family court.

Expect them to increasingly make orders from public funds to allow litigants access to Counsel or solicitors. Equality of arms will be a big thing this year. Legal aid cuts will gain more exposure from this court.

9. There will finally be a report on Alan Blacker

You know, the ‘Harry Potter’ chap with the badges, whose representation in a trial led to numerous articles and forum postings.

Will be interesting reading.

10. Chelsea will win the Premiership

But fall short in the Champions League

 

Over and out.

Legal Orange.